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Anime & Manga
Films — Animation
- Mulan: Mushu writes a fake urgent letter that causes the troops to move out before they've technically finished their training. Unfortunately, when the troops get out to the pass where the General was, their need turns out to be heartbreakingly real.
Films — Live-Action
- '71: When the soldiers arrive in the west Belfast neighbourhood to assist the RUC, they find it funny when the local children throw water balloons (filled with urine) and verbal abuse at them. They realise how dangerous their assignment is when the angry mob becomes violent.
- Space Camp: Kids at a NASA camp get launched into space and must figure out how to return to Earth.
- xXx. Xander Cage gets chucked out the back of a plane into the middle of a drug war, hung from a roof and threatened with a machete, and he's wisecracking along thinking this is all just another test... then realising the blood on the machete is real... then finding out that it WAS real, but it was STILL a test...
- Star Trek:
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The Enterprise is on a training mission with a crew of cadets when they're called to action to deal with the title villain.
- Star Trek: Generations, though it's the ship and not (theoretically) the crew that isn't ready. Though the crew is very young.
- Star Trek had cadets and teachers pressed into service because the Federation Armada wasn't able to respond to a distress call from Vulcan.
- In the first Police Academy, the cadets are assigned to maintain a safe perimeter when a riot breaks out downtown. Thanks to the help of Commandant Lassard, though (he never forgets a number), they mistakenly get dropped off right in the middle of all the chaos.
- Ultramarines has a variation: the Space Marines being sent to investigate a distress signal are all newly-promoted, and certainly weren't expecting an entire Chaos force. However, they are by no means lacking in combat experience — it takes decades of training just to become an Astartes scout, and even longer to be judged ready to become a full battle-brother.
- The French film RR Rrrrr!!! has an amusing variation: the title cards begin with slow trumpets and helicopter sounds, reading "On May 9th 1969, two kilometers away from the northern Laotian border, the U.S. Army's 101st Infantry Division marches towards Hill 937. To them, it's a simple recon mission. To the Vietcong, Hill 937 is a vital strategic asset. The ten enlisted men of the 101st, having received little training, were supposed to carry out the assignment in less than two hours. They held out heroically for nine days. This movie... is not about them."
- Averted in The Last Samurai. The Imperial army is sent to fight the rebels against the advice of the protagonist who says they're not properly trained yet, and get defeated. Of course the movie is centered around Tom Cruise's character, not the Redshirt Army.
- The Warhammer 40,000 graphic novel Imperius Dictatio starts this way. During a routine patrol mission a titan's princeps (main pilot) dies of old age, leaving the giant warmachine immobilised a minute away from a combat engagement. Since the role requires a set of plug implants to connect the user's brain to the machine, none of the crew members can replace him. Fortunately, there is a princeps cadet on board, added to the crew to see the titan at work...
- Ender's Game features an odd take on this- Ender and friends think they are just training on a simulator, they win the final battle, and are then told that it was not a simulation, and they had just won the war... by sacrificing the entire human fleet in a suicide attack that ended up destroying an entire planet and genociding the entire enemy race. note The children were deliberately not told, because if they knew it was real lives on the line they might have frozen up or been too cautious. Ender did not take this well.
- The Seafort Saga series uses this multiple times. In the first book a midshipman has to take over as ship captain when all other officers die. In another book cadets are sent on a Suicide Mission because there is noone else available.
- This happens a lot in Vampire Academy, but most notably in Frostbite. Instead of merely training against Strigoi, they face the real thing and there are casualties.
- X-Wing Series: Wraith Squadron is just departing their base at Folor to begin a training mission, but this is interrupted by the arrival of an Imperial Star Destroyer under the flag of Admiral Trigit. They're forced to evacuate the base, and to scramble against the fighters sent by the Star Destroyer. After Folor base is successfully evacuated, they continue the training mission they'd started...and end up falling into a trap set by Trigit, which ends up putting them on a full-fledged infiltration mission before the squadron is declared fully operational.
- In the pilot episode of Emergency!, Gage and DeSoto were not yet allowed to set up IVs or do many other normal tasks. Then Dixie ends up one of the casualties, and there's no one else to give her treatment ....
- Pretty much any game which combines its tutorial with an action-packed first level are like this, especially for the player.
- Halo: Combat Evolved has a variation of this in its tutorial: After being woken up from cryosleep on a ship which is in the middle of being attacked, the Chief is only just able to get his Powered Armor calibrated before being told to go to the bridge, with the captain ordering him to skip the rest of the tests. That said, Chief is already an experienced veteran, so none of this phases him at all.
- Call of Duty II starts with a group of Soviet conscripts taking potshots at tin cans on an ad-hoc Shooting Gallery and practicing lobbing grenades by tossing potatoes (because "grenades are more valuable than you'll ever be!"). (Bizarrely, since the time period saw mass starvation on the Soviet side...) Then a recruit bursts in to inform the commissar that he's caught a Nazi infiltrator, and an enemy raid is imminent...